This article will be divided into three parts:
1. Kinds of watch material and their advantages and disadvantages
2. Features of common stamps
3. How to identify a watch from materials and stamps?
Now, let’s pay attention to the first part: Kinds of watch material and their advantages and disadvantages
Gold: gold is no doubt a main material used in a Swiss made replica watch, especially the first component chosen by jewelry watches and complicated watches. Because it is rare, it is precious. The density of gold is 20 times than that of water; it has strong allusion resistance, high forgeability and tensile strength. Gold has the maximum changes as well, blending in silver, platinum, nickel or zinc can cast into white gold, blending in copper can cast into red gold or rose gold, blending in iron can turn into blue. Its disadvantage is easier to abrade and deform.
Silver: silver became the common production of material before due to its soft characteristic, and nowadays it is far more inferior to gold in the application of watch, the reason is that it is extremely easier to tarnish with water and humidity. So our common CARTIER silver case is plated with gold.
Copper: copper is the best thing used in watch; it is cheap and is characteristic of extremely easy to process. It is mainly used in the movement, at present most of movements available are based on brass alloys splint. In general the movements we see come in yellow and white, yellow movement is usually coated with titanium oxide, while the white movement is made of nickel alloy coated with zinc.
Platinum: platinum is made of iridium, osmium, ruthenium and palladium. It is extremely rare, can be melting when subject to extreme heat, soluble in water, and not change in the atmosphere. Therefore, this material is often used for making expensive watches, which serve as collection
Palladium: some of its features are similar to platinum, but it is fairly new in the application of watch. I believe that we will come across in the future.
Rhodium: Harry Winston released a rhodium metallic watch in 2000.
Titanium: titanium is light in quality and extremely hard, antic-magnetic, anti-corrosive, and is used for making watch case by many brands (Omega, IWC and so on). Rado’s folding clasp is made of titanium. Its disadvantage is the slightly higher price.
Tantalum and yttrium: both are innovative materials in the watch factory. Whether promoted or not later on is tested by time.
Silicon: silicon has the features of not easy to abrade and no need to lubricate. It is now used for making the core part of movement (escapement wheel). It does no need damping and retains the minimum failure rate.
Steel: steel is a widely used case material; majority of watch manufacturers uses 316L stainless steel. Yet Rolex uses 904L stainless steel, its price is three times than that of 316L stainless. Except Rolex there is no a second brand use this material, but it sometimes causes irritation on sensitive areas of skin.
Sapphire: it has high hardness, good penetrability, low friction, high temperature resistance, and resistance to wear and is often used for making watch glass and transparent back.
In the following, let’s turn to the second part: features of common stamps
The common stamps we see are available with gold, silver, platinum and steel, in addition, the Geneva Seal, COSC signet and the latest QF authentication.
Gold: it is divided into K gold, pure gold (99%) and thousand pure gold (99.9%). Watch basically is made of 18K gold (0.750), stamp is composed of queen head, balance 750 and 18K GOLD. Dog head substitutes for queen head after 1995, others are not changing. Previous cases have 14K gold (0.585) squirrel stamp and 9K gold (0.375) treasured sword stamp, as the following picture:
Chronometer: it is a kind of precise watch that can maintain the high standard quality in different conditions and temperatures. The identification of chronometer is carried through the COSC. Each watch will be tested at five directions and at 3 temperatures in the successive 15 days (360 hours). Every direction with a day difference of -4 to +6 seconds shall be qualified. We can catch sight of the “CHRONOMETRES” stamp on the dial, which explains that this watch has passed the observatory’s test and is entitled a trusted watch.
The Geneva Seal: it was established according to the “Geneva Rules” of 1886. The original intention of “Geneva Rules” is to guarantee the watch and clock really produced in Geneva, watch movements fit for this standard will be awarded The Geneva Seal, which is engraved the Geneva badge’s “hawk” and “key” mark. But because it was introduced that only the local watches made in Geneva can apply for, which doesn’t allow us to see the stamp on the movement of some watch brands like Audemars Piguet, whose quality absolutely fits for the requirements of Geneva, but not produced in Geneva. What’s more, Philippe Dufour’s polishing is completely not inferior to PP, even better, because he is an independent watch maker, he doesn’t need to be identified. We just observe the movement’s polishing and making, we will know that whether it fits for the Geneva’s qualification or not.
Qualite fleurier: it was set up by Chopard, Parmigiani and Bovet. For watch requirements not including in the Geneva Seal, the key point is that it not only adopts the standard to mechanical device, but also tests the whole watch. It is tested according to the use of watch in daily life or exercising. It has wide scope of testing, which opens a big door for all watch manufacturers in Europe.
The third part: How to identify a watch from materials and stamps?
Materials and stamps are uniform; almost every kind of material is introduced by stamps or characters. Precious metal is the common material, while we usually understand its components from stamps and characters, with the addition of sense of touch; you can basically make sure the material of the watch. However, fake watches and replica watches are getting more and more rampant; we should know more about all kinds of stamps.
We can distinguish the watch’s quality from its strap, but it is not absolute. Watch straps can be divided into: ceramic strap, metallic strap (tungsten titanium gold strap, solid steel strap), leather strap, satin strap and so on. Buckle is the fixed device of watch; it mainly consists of folding clasp, mandrill clasp, and safety clasp and so on. Each clasp has its brand’s unique feature, such as:
Audemars Piguet’s clasp is connected by “A” and “P”.
VC’s clasp is made from half Maltese cross.
PP was set up its brand by Calatrava
Strap without striking features has stamps and characters to explain its brand and material. Material and workmanship of strap is the key to judge its quality; steel and precious metal bracelet pay attention to the polishing and workmanship. If a watch strap touches rough and has apparent flaw, this must have problem, not talking the good watch, as long as the branded low price watch, its strap must be comfortable. Such brand can have its value of existence. The situation I mentioned just now is 99.9% fake straps.
Watch glass face can be split into organic glass, quartz glass and sapphire glass. Before the 1970s almost used the organic glass, which features circular arc shape. It is not easy to be broken, but easy to be scratched, later on, it was changed into quartz glass and sapphire glass. Sapphire glass has hardness of 9 and is characteristic of hydrophobicity and oiliness, so we distinguish by this method: dropping a drop of water on it, water cannot diffuse and looks like a dewdrop on the lotus leaf, yet water on quartz glass will diffuse. The disadvantage of sapphire is brought by its advantage, which is fragile.
Stamps on the case, especially stamps on the case back can explain the brand and series of this watch, to be familiar with these can help us easier to identify the genuine and fake. For example: we all know that Jaeger-LeCoultre is at present an all-round watch factory in Switzerland that is provided with research and manufacture, even offers movements for the outer factories. Its most famous series is REVERSO, while Master constantly adopts the self-winding movement approved by 1,000 hours strict test.
Omega Constellation, Seamaster, Speedmaster and De Ville
Vacheron Constantin Overseas series also has its specific mark.